Sunday, May 6, 2012

Double Nickels on the Grime

There's been a surge the past few years of semi-organized gravel bicycle rides, at least across the Midwest. I first heard about the Almanzo a few years ago and appreciate the independent spirit and grassroots vibe of the ride/race. The Trans Iowa is another one I'd love to ride one day.

Part of the gravel spirit is a reaction against the ridiculously high entry fees that are now being charged for bicycle and running races of all kinds. The Leadville 100 wants $275 this year just to participate and many marathons charge over $100. Of course, that type of coin does get you a t-shirt.

There is no entry fee in these rides and there is also no support -- riders are on their own for food, water, mechanicals, etc. Sponsors are typically enlisted to help defray the costs of the organizer and volunteers make it all happen.

Last December I went for a hike in the northern part of the Bridger range and was intrigued by the network of gravel/dirt roads on the western side south of the ghost town of Maudlow. I began driving around and noting the non-paved roads on my map and was excited to see that a nice bike route could probably be created.

After a couple more scouting missions, both in car and on bike, I've come up with a 55-mile route that I'm excited to invite a few friends to ride with me this summer. I've biked the entire route on my scouting missions, but not all at once. It's hilly and beautiful and should be a good challenge riding in the shadow of the Bridger range.


Double Nickels on the Grime
The Morganzo 55

The name Morganzo came as a nod to Almanzo and because the Morgan family has quite a bit of ranch property in this area. I don't know the Morgans, but I'm assuming they encompass a decent chunk of the regional history.

Double Nickels on the Grime refers to one of the greatest albums of all time, Double Nickels on the Dime by The Minutemen. Never has there been a more beautiful collaboration between jazz and punk rock.

The ride starts about 20 miles north of Bozeman, MT and runs clockwise in a windy north-south loop. The entire ride is on gravel except for about 100 yards near the beginning. It gains 3000 feet of elevation in mostly rolling hills with an extended downhill near the finish. Parts of the ride can get muddy but I think in a Montana summer it'll be mostly dry riding.

I can't wait to put the entire loop together in one ride when I get back from California in a few weeks.


samh said...

The timing of my reading this couldn't have been better. I just finished watching this year's installment of the Gravel Metric video.

Your route looks wonderful, Kirk. I look forward to riding it with you. It has been two years since we did a Fixie 60 here in BZN and I think this will be a superior addition to that style of event.

jondub said...

I'm stoked. Now I have a reason to do some training rides.